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Women’s college students vote to admit trans men, use gender-inclusive language – school already admits men who identify as women

Photo by Darren McCollester/Getty Images

Students at Wellesley College, a private women's liberal arts college in Massachusetts, voted Tuesday in support of a nonbinding referendum to allow transgender men and non-binary individuals to enroll, the New York Times reported.

Wellesley College, whose alumnae include Hillary Clinton and Madeleine Albright, was founded in 1870 as a school for "women who will make a difference in the world." It currently enrolls more than 2,300 students, according to its website.

This week, students voted to support a referendum to change the college's admissions policy to allow transgender men and non-binary people to enroll. The ballot initiative also seeks to adopt more "inclusive" language, such as using the word "students" or "alumni" instead of "women."

"Wellesley College acknowledges the result of the nonbinding student ballot initiative," the college stated. "Although there is no plan to revisit its mission as a women's college or its admissions policy, the College will continue to engage all students, including transgender male and nonbinary students, in the important work of building an inclusive academic community where everyone feels they belong."

The college did not report the vote breakdown, so it is unclear how many students supported the referendum.

In 2015, the college changed its admissions policy to allow transgender women to apply, supporting anyone "who lives as a woman and consistently identifies as a woman," the Times reported.

Critics insist that allowing transgender men and non-binary individuals to enroll would turn the college into a coed campus.

Supporters argued that the "spirit" of the college's founding was to provide a school for individuals facing gender discrimination, and therefore, it should admit transgender and non-binary individuals as well.

"We're just asking the administration to put on paper what's already true of the student body," said student body president Alexandra Brooks. "Trans men go to Wellesley, non-binary people go to Wellesley, and they kind of always have."

The college does not have data on how many enrolled students identify as transgender or non-binary.

Brooks claimed the new policy "would not in any way change the culture of the school" because "it's still, and always will be, a school to educate people who are of marginalized genders."

While the result of the student vote is nonbinding, supporters stated they hope to demonstrate to the college's board of trustees "that this isn't just something that a few people care about or something that only the trans students care about, but it's something that is a large opinion of the student body."

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